Racing to the Top Two Affen Siblings’ Rise to Fame

    Two Affenpinscher dogs.

    (A version of this article appeared in the September 2017 edition of SHOWSIGHT and is reprinted here as a celebration of the versatility of Toy Dogs.)

    On a hot summer day, August 24, 2013, a “six pack” was born at Ferlin Affenpinschers—an unusually large litter size for Affens. Even more unusual—they all survived! With their sire being CH Roadie and dam CH Journey, they became known as the “car” litter. Three of the puppies went on to finish their AKC championships—Porsche, Jag and Sally. While Porsche retired to a loving companion home, Jag and Sally were just getting their engines revved up. Little did breeders, Linda Ferris and Sharon Boyd, know that their collaboration would produce two history-making Affens.

    You see, Jag, as he’s commonly known, is really CH Ferlin’s Black Jaguar MX MXJ CAX CGCA CGCU, co-owned and trained by Sharon Rafferty. While he excels in Agility, he is the first and only Affenpinscher in the world to obtain a Lure/Coursing Ability Test (CAT) Championship.

    Backing up a couple of years to begin at the beginning. As an experienced Agility trainer/handler, Sharon knew the attributes she wanted in a performance Affen. In evaluating the litter for one that fit the bill, Linda and Sharon assessed the puppies one by one while Sharon ticked off her list. When they came to Jag, it was clear that he was the one: size of bone (check), attitude, confidence, resilience (check, check, and check!). He scored very high on every aspect of the test. It was as if he couldn’t fail. Linda said it was meant to be because he was born on Sharon’s birthday.

    For the first few months, Sharon focused on building a bond between the two of them. Then training began about six months later. Sharon just knew that he had the right stuff—and boy did he! Jag finished his AKC Conformation championship in two weekends, and with that achievement in his rearview mirror he focused on his real passion: performance events!

    Sharon spent about two years training Jag before entering Agility events. While he finished as the No. 1 Agility Affen for 2016, she feels that it will take another 2-3 years of work to get their timing down. In the meantime, they “fill in their training time” with other performance events to prevent boredom and enhance Jag’s natural abilities: first his CGC title, then attending Barn Hunt seminars to fine-tune his hunting ability (Side Note: He has killed several rats, a squirrel, and more birds than Sharon can count. Yuck!) And, of course, he earned his Lure/Coursing Ability Test championship. While Jag excels in running and jumping in Agility, in CAT it’s all about the chase, a natural fit for this speedster. His attitude in these performance events is “just put me down and let me go, go, go!!!!” When in gear, Jag is in overdrive!

    Jag has also demonstrated a natural talent for alerting to blood sugar issues. This was certainly a hidden skillset that Sharon did not anticipate but knew what to do to develop. The result: He is a diabetic alert dog for her.

    Jag clearly demonstrates Affenpinscher versatility, a characteristic often overlooked in this fabulous breed. No matter what the starting line, Jag will race to the finish with his pedal to the metal.

    Meanwhile, Sally took a decidedly different road to success. While she is now known as International Best in Show Champion, AKC Bronze Grand Champion Ferlin’s Mustang Sally, No. 1 NOHS Affen 2016, 2017, and Lifetime (AKC stats as of 8/12/17) and No. 9 All-Breed Affen for 2016, two years ago no one ever thought she’d achieve this kind of success. You see, Sally was a reluctant show dog and, at 20 months old, was on the verge of being placed as a pet. Not wanting to see a lovely example of the breed taken out of a breeding program or the show ring, I asked Linda if I could make her my “project.” She and co-breeder Sharon Boyd graciously allowed me to take on the challenge.

    Our journey began in April 2015. After spending six weeks getting to know each other, Sally started her show career with me by going Best of Breed for her first two points. Two months later, she took three Group 2s, a Group 1, and a Best in Show at an IBACA cluster, finishing her International Championship in one weekend. Six weeks later, she completed her AKC Championship.

    In limited showing in 2016, Sally garnered a Regular Toy Group 1, two Group 2s, one Group 3, and three Group 4s. As of July 30, 2017, in the National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS) competition, she’d accrued five Reserve Bests in Show, eight Group 1s, eleven Group 2s, five Group 3s, and three Group 4s. She was Best Owner-Handled and Select Bitch at the 2017 National Championship NOHS and Breed shows, respectively, and made the final cut in the National Championship NOHS Toy Group. All of this was achieved in about 30 weekends spread over two years, with twice taking time off for maternity leave. Not bad for the little silver Affen with “four on the floor.”

    So what made the difference? Like Sharon’s approach with Jag, I focused on building a bond with Sally and learning her likes and dislikes. We started out by just walking everywhere—on trails, around the neighborhood, and eventually at outdoor malls. This enabled me to gauge her reaction to different situations and learn what was needed to help her cope with them. When it was clear she was pushed past her comfort zone, I’d pick her up and coddle her as opposed to pushing her to power through the situation. This let her know that I could be trusted to “have her back” when she needed me to be there.

    Weekly training class enabled me to assess how she felt about tables, noise, and strange dogs and people “invading her space.” It became evident that what she needed most of all was to feel secure enough to relax. By focusing on me, she tuned out the commotion that stressed her out. That focus enabled judges to see her wonderful conformation, movement, and beautiful little “monkey face.” Her slogan became “Ride, Sally, Ride” and ride she did!

    The key point to Jag and Sally’s story is—don’t give up, just find what makes your Affen tick. This is a versatile breed whose size doesn’t limit its abilities. Each dog has a distinctive personality that you need to take the time to figure out and look for a “connection.”

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    Kathie Timko, Gizmo Affenpinschers

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